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Old 03-05-2018, 10:56 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Location: Lazio, Italy
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Default Rebora #2

Another one by Clemente Rebora (see earlier thread), the third poem in his 1913 collection Frammenti lirici.

Out of the thick clouds’ core,
down—burnished, the cuirass’s
dazzling yellow zigzag course,
with bursting sound, a rushing roar—
plummets the whirlwind and dashes
on gusts ridden headlong like a horse
over farmland and fields, and wages war;
but when it crashes into a city,
its links of mail hinged no more,
it darkens like rings under eyes,
and zigzag and sound and wind
become anxiety
of tortured busyness confined:
and without a fight it slays.

3/6: the em dashes were parentheses and "busyness" in next-to-last line was "activities"
3/10: in line 4, "roar" was "uproar"
line 6 was "on wind, stretched forth on its horse,"

Dall’intensa nuvolaglia
gi¨—brunita la corazza,
con guizzi di lucido giallo,
con suono che scoppia e si scaglia—
piomba il turbine e scorrazza
sul vento proteso a cavallo
campi e ville, e dÓ battaglia;
ma quand’urta una cittÓ
si scÓrdina in ogni maglia,
s’inombra come un’occhiaia,
e guizzi e suono e vento
tramuta in ansietÓ
d’affollate faccende in tormento:
e senza combattere ammazza.

prose crib

From the thick cloudbank, down—burnished the cuirass, with dartings of bright yellow, with sound that bursts and onrushes—plummets the whirlwind/vortex and dashes on wind, [as if] stretched forth on horse, fields and farms, and wages combat; but when it crashes into a city its every link (of chainmail) unhinges, it shadows over like a dark circle under the eyes, and dartings and sound and wind turn into anxiety of crowded busyness in torment: and without fighting it slays.

Last edited by Andrew Frisardi; 03-10-2018 at 01:41 AM.
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Old 03-06-2018, 01:13 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 2,045

Hi Andrew,

This seems like a pretty tough piece to translate, and it looks to me like you've got it. The only departure from the Italian that had me wondering was confined for affollate, which I guess means crowded?
I enjoyed your English rhyme scheme but didn't really evaluate the English beyond seeing that it was indeed English and it rendered the Italian.

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Old 03-06-2018, 07:47 AM
Kevin Greene Kevin Greene is online now
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Midwest
Posts: 700

Really a nice job! Very much so!

I would like to recommend you keep the em dashes as I think they are easier to follow. (I suppose because they stand out more.)

My only misgiving is your use of `activities`in the penultimate line. It just seems somewhat flat compared to something like `crowded business` (of city life.) But I certainly see the felicity of ending that line with `confined.`

You made some really nice choices.
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:57 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Location: Lazio, Italy
Posts: 4,218

John and Kevin, I'm glad this seems to be coming across. As you point out, John, it's a very dense poem to translate--Rebora is often characterized as an expressionist, and it's true that his poetry tends to have a thick texture.

As you surmise, "affollate" does mean crowded, I just took a bit of interpretative leeway there.

Kevin, I've adopted both your suggestions. I wasn't at ease with "activities" either and the em dashes are better than parentheses also since the latter enclose the space of the poem too much, which doesn't fit this piece.

Better now?
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Old 03-06-2018, 12:09 PM
Kevin Greene Kevin Greene is online now
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Midwest
Posts: 700

I think you`ve made the right decision with `busyness.` I would have gone to `business` to suggest the commerce of the city, but your word choice allows for both meanings.

Dense poetry is right! And ambiguous enough, for me at least, to leave the poet`s intent somewhat in question. Is this storm one of deadening progress? Time? Social upset? &c.
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Old 03-06-2018, 12:12 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Location: Lazio, Italy
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I prefer "busyness" to "business" because the latter brings in the economic layer of meaning that's not in the original.

Not sure what the right answer to your questions is, Kevin, but there's definitely a contrast between the storm in the open countryside and the sense of natural forces being converted to psychic depletion in the modern city.
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Old 03-09-2018, 01:09 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Hey, Andrew!

We may have different translation philosophies on this one, so feel free to reject any of these suggestions.

Even if we promote "clouds" to a stress due to its importance, "OUT of the THICK CLOUD'S CORE" still de-emphasizes "clouds" somewhat by placing that noun where an unaccented syllable would be. For that reason, I think that moving "clouds" up one syllable, into a more naturally stressed position, might be better, even if all three syllables remain stressed, in practice: "OUT of the CLOUDS' THICK CORE."

I wonder if "dense" might convey more brooding intensity than "thick."

Why "UProar" rather than "ROAR"? I think the rhyme requires more stress there.

"Whirlwind" or "twister" be a less technical-sounding two-syllable translation than "vortex." However, I really think that you could get away with the three-syllable (and more obvious) "tornado" here.

I don't like the inversion of "plummets the vortex," even though it's in the original. The inversion is more dramatic in the Italian, but I think the English requires "the vortex," as the subject of all this action, to get top billing by taking its usual position before the main verb.

"Piombare" can be either intransitive ("plummets") or a more transitive ("plunges" something into something else). I like the violence of the more transitive meaning, but maybe you could keep the idea of that violence with a different verb--perhaps "the vortex stabs and slashes"?

"Slashes" instead of "dashes" for the verb "scagliare" ("hurl, fling, pounce on") may be too much of a liberty, but the noun "scaglia" is "flake, chip," so maybe the idea of hacking with a sword rather than jumping onto a horse, or racing around on a horse, isn't too much of a stretch....

Speaking of stretches, I'm not sure of the exact grammatical relationship of "proteso" to the words around it, but "straddling the wind as its horse" might be a smoother way of conveying that image.

I realize that the word order of the final line in English reflects that of the original, but I wonder if ending with some sort of "-ly" adverb would better emphasize the difference between the tornado's country and city behavior, and thus bring out the urban quiet-desperation metaphor more. "and it slays less combatively" sure has a lot of syllables, but maybe "and it slays more sneakily"?

I don't have a lot of confidence that these thoughts will be helpful per se, but I hope they might take you in useful directions, or make you more certain about sticking to what you have.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 03-09-2018 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 03-10-2018, 01:35 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Location: Lazio, Italy
Posts: 4,218

I've made some changes based on your comments, Julie. Thanks for calling me back to this. I've considered all your points carefully.

The biggest change is to line 6. You were 100 percent right on that one. The phrase set off by commas was killing the flow. "Proteso" has to carry a sense of leaning forward, so I've tried out another option. "Wind" in that line is now "gusts," since I think "whirlwind" is the best option for "turbine" in the line before this. I wanted to keep the two syllables there, so passed on "tornado," plus the register of "twister" sounded too idiomatic (maybe my own association: I can't hear that word without thinking of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz).

Having said this: I don't think I'm quite there with line 6, but I'm not sure. Thoughts, anyone?

Also, good call on "uproar" in line 4, which I changed to "roar," as you suggested.

For line 1, I like the order of "thick clouds' core" because it's the clouds that are thick not the core per se. The adjective "thick" is staying because it sounds thicker (because of its Germanicness, more visceral), while "dense" is Latinate and lighter.

For the last line, I think the original's word order is important: it's supposed to be anticlimactic, soul-slaying as a daily occupation etc., and ending with "slays" gives that sense better imo.

I'm also keeping the word order in line 5: "plummets" follows on "down" in line 2, with the intervening parenthetical aside about the cuirass. "Down plummets the whirlwind" is not a radical inversion of syntax in English. "Piomba" does need to stay "plummets" after "gi¨."

I'm sure the poem is better now, for which: mille grazie!


Last edited by Andrew Frisardi; 03-10-2018 at 02:05 AM.
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